Saturday, February 23, 2013

Patricia Wells' Lemon Loaf Cake - Cake Au Citron

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I've been baking today. Like many of you, the Silver Fox and I will be attending an Academy Award party on Sunday and I've been asked to bring an appetizer and dessert. For all the baking I do, I have never made the Lemon Loaf Cake that Patricia Wells featured in her book Bistro Cooking. I thought this would be a perfect cake to tote with us, but while I was at it, I decided to also make Dorie Greenspan's s version of a similar cake. I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of the two.  The cakes are not identical to each other,  so each will be featured in a separate post. First up, will be Patricia Wells' Cake Au Citron, This lemon cake is intensely flavored and has a texture that makes is hard to categorize. It is most like a pound cake, though it is lighter and more finely textured. The cake is very easy to make and requires no special equipment. It is almost foolproof. Almost. Like all pound-type cakes it is prone to "sad streaks". A sad streak is a gummy layer that sometimes appears toward the bottom of a pound cake. I'm sure you have encountered them at one time or another in your baking. Their appearance does not mean there is a problem with the recipe. You can bake a hundred beautiful cakes using the same recipe, then suddenly  encounter one that has that damp and gummy sad streak. It probably is related to cake shrinkage and some bakers go so far as to drop or bounce their cakes to set the crumb and prevent shrinkage. I'm not that brave. I'd rather live with an occasional gummy streak than deliberately drop a cake. I mention the streaks because one of the two cakes I baked using this recipe had the gummy streak in it while the other was perfect. Quite vexing. At any rate, this is a delicious cake to make for lemon lovers in your life. Its flavor is intense and, while it is wonderful as a standalone dessert, it would also make a fabulous base for a fruit compote or trifle. The cake keeps well and improves in flavor as it ages. Needless-to-say, it would be wonderful to serve with afternoon tea. Lemon lovers will really enjoy this cake. Here is how it is made.

Lemon Loaf Cake - Cake Au Citron...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Patricia Wells and Bistro Cooking

2-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 4  medium lemons

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9” loaf pans.
2) Combine flour and baking powder and set aside.
3) Combine eggs and sugar in an electric mixer and mix until well blended. With mixer at slow speed, slowly add, in this order: creme fraiche, flour mixture, butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until very smooth.
4) Divide batter between prepared loaf pans. Place pans in center of oven and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about one hour. I suggest checking after 50 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Let sit for 10 minutes then turn out onto cooling rack. Turn upright and let sit until cool. Cut into thin slices. Yield: 2 cakes.

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Angie's Recipes said...

The cake has a really fine and moist crumb. I love it.
Have a wonderful weekend, Mary.

Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger said...

HI Mary,

I see baking has its many complexities, as you outlined in today's post!
Keep up the good cooking :)
Duncan In Kuantan

QembarDelites said...

Yep, sometimes, I still get those streaks on my bakes and wondered what went wrong! Never mind, as long as the taste is not comprised:D Have a good weekend Mary!

Katarina said...

It looks delicious! I like lemon cakes. Have a great Saturday!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Haha, if it looks too easy, it probably is!! SO I'm betting I'd be a 'sad streak' victim ... but I wouldn't care because I ADORE citrus desserts!!

Unknown said...

Hi Mary! Your party sounds fun! We are contemplating watching on TV but it's at 3am! re the cake: I'm so glad you mention that pesky streak - it does happen, doesn't it. And I do love loaves!

Cindy@NorthofWiarton said...

My husband loves anything baked lemon. Could Sour Cream be used in this recipe? Thanks Mary, I look forward to the recipe you will be making by Dorie Greenspan. Enjoy your day !

Kathy said...

This cake looks perfect! So moist and lovely. I would love to have a slice with my tea.

Tanna said...

Yummmm... a little "sad streak" wouldn't infringe on the joy of eating this at all! ;) blessings ~ tanna

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Sad streak aside, it looks as lemony as can be - I can almost smell the citrus!

Kim said...

I once baked these cakes and I think these were really good! Perfect for the lemon lover in me:)

Debbie said...

Making this and bringing it to work for my coworkers....delicious!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

My love for lemon is legendary (in my own mind) I am interested to know which cake you would make over and over again.

Ginny Hartzler said...

This looks wonderful. I have never heard the term sad streak before. When I was little, my mom always warned me sternly not to jump and play when a cake was in the oven.Back then, they said that would make it "fall". I really wonder about the truth of that now. Perhaps an old wives tale.

Older but not particularly wiser... said...

Hi Mary. Another great post from your inspirational blog.
I have an identical recipe for an orange and a lemon cake (other than one using orange rind&juice and the other lemon r&j!!) The orange cake always turns out perfectly. The lemon is often darker in colour, takes a little longer to bake and can have that 'gumming' issue. I believe it may be something to do with the acidity of the lemon juice. Many lemon cake recipes do not include the juice or use a tiny amount and will perhaps use milk, as a form of low acidity balance. I've tried this with varying degrees of success. Without the juice, you do tend to lose some of the real lemony lemon flavour, though this can be offset by either adding a lemon syrup at the end of the bake, or just having an icing sugar/lemon juice frosting on top. It certainly can be a challenging cake, but perfection is hard won!
Regards, Colin.

Chiara said...

Looks delicious , I love lemon cakes, thanks for sharing, have a good day, blessings....

Anonymous said...

Have fun at the party - you never quite know with baking! I love the amount of lemon in this
Mary x

janice15 said...

I just recently posted a pound cake recipe that I found and tried and it came with that gummy look the whole piece of it almost except for a pinch on the top side...I was very disapointed the cake asked for 2 cups of butter which I think was to much it was printed in a old Victoria mag I had..the batter was awesome and tasteful but it was looking nice at all..It looked almost jelled.. happy weekend with love Janice

France@beyondthepeel said...

It looks exactly like a pound cake to look. I'm a HUGE fan of lemon desserts and this sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Does this recipe make one cake or two? It says to prepare two pans but the yield is one loaf. Assuming two was correct, I halved the recipe and used one pan. The result was very good but the cake was rather thin. I would use a smaller pan next time.

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